Update: Pepsi recently reformulated Pepsi Next to not include aspartame. This review is about the original version with aspartame.
Pepsi Next contains a veritable who’s who of sweeteners. The latest addition to the Pepsi line includes the high fructose corn syrup in regular Pepsi, the aspartame in Diet Pepsi, the sucralose in Pepsi One, and the acesulfame potassium in Pepsi Max.
So if you’re someone who yells, “High fructose corn syrup is evil!” or “Aspertame is the Devil!” or “Sucralose will destroy mankind!” or “What the hell is acesulfame potassium?”, Pepsi Next is not for you.
The combining of these sweeteners into Pepsi Next makes it sound as if Dr. Frankenstein had a part in developing it by collecting ingredients from other Pepsi varieties to bring to life a new one.
Or, maybe, he tried to bring back from the dead a discontinued Pepsi, like Crystal Pepsi, Holiday Spice Pepsi, or Pepsi Blue.
(Sidenote: Dear Pepsi: Please bring back Crystal Pepsi, Holiday Spice Pepsi, and Pepsi Blue, even if it’s for a limited time. I would totally play 7 Minutes in Heaven with current PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi to make this happen. Heck, I would also play 7 Minutes in Heaven with her predecessor, Steven Reinemund to bring them back.)
So what happens when Pepsi combines four popular sweeteners in the processed food world into one beverage? According to Pepsi, we get a beverage with real cola taste and 60 percent less sugar than regular Pepsi. But could I see myself replacing my beloved Pepsi Max for Pepsi Next? Also, if it’s discontinued, would I be willing to play 7 Minutes in Heaven with whomever the PepsiCo CEO is a decade from now?
Although it contains three artificial sweeteners and has 60 percent fewer calories than regular Pepsi, it’s really hard to taste anything “diet” about Pepsi Next. But it’s not quite like regular Pepsi; it’s less syrupy and smoother. There are also differences in flavor between Pepsi Next and original Pepsi. I thought Pepsi Next had a slightly stronger cola flavor and, for some reason, my taste buds perceived a hint of lemon, which made me think my taste buds were broken, but a second opinion agreed with me.
Maybe it was my tongue hoping Pepsi brings back Pepsi Twist.
(Sidenote: Dear Pepsi: I don’t really miss Pepsi Twist, so I would not be willing to play 7 Minutes in Heaven with any PepsiCo executive to bring it back.)
Overall, Pepsi Next is quite good. However, I don’t think it’ll replace my beloved Pepsi Max because my go-to soda has no sugar, more caffeine, and I prefer its flavor. I also don’t see it taking the place of Diet Pepsi as my backup go-to soda. Pepsi Next is slightly better tasting, but my taste buds have long gotten used to the flavor of Diet Pepsi, so I’m willing to sacrifice taste to drink something with no calories and sugar. I think many Diet Pepsi drinkers will probably feel the same.
So who is Pepsi Next for?
I think Pepsi Next mainly appeals to are those who want to cut back or stop drinking regular Pepsi because their doctors advised them to or they’re losing their hearing from all people yelling at them, “High fructose corn syrup is evil!” So if you’re one of those people, Pepsi Next could be the Nicorette Gum of Pepsi colas.
(Sidenote: Dear Pepsi: Pepsi Next is good, but if it’s discontinued, I won’t miss it. So the CEO of PepsiCo ten years from now is safe from the possibility of being subjected to seven awkward minutes with me in a closet.)
(Disclaimer: I received a free six-pack of Pepsi Next from the nice PR firm that represents Pepsi. It also came with a card that said I was one of the first 100 people in America to taste Pepsi Next, but I’m not sure that’s accurate since they’ve been testing it in limited locations over the past year or so.)
(Nutrition Facts – 1 can/12 ounces – 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 60 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)
Item: Pepsi Next
Size: 12 ounces
Purchased at: Received from nice PR folks
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Quite good. 60 percent less sugar and calories. Smoother than other Pepsi varieties. Tastes more like regular Pepsi than Diet Pepsi. Playing 7 Minutes in Heaven to bring back discontinued Pepsi flavors. Pepsi Max. If you love consuming a bunch of artificial sweeteners at one time, you’ll love this.
Cons: Spending seven awkward minutes with me in a closet. If you hate sweeteners other than pure cane sugar, you won’t like it. Not really interested in bringing back Pepsi Twist.